Old Treasures And New Yarn

Last year, not long after I had moved home, I was privileged to be visited by a friend who I had known for a long time, but never met. As well as my online knitting friends I have a group of online geeky friends, and there are a fair few that span the divide. Wullie is not a knitter, but he bought along a couple of wonderful gifts, courtesy of his mum. One was a slim paper knitting pamphlet of patterns and general knitting tips and guidelines, and the other was this glorious publication:

This book is absolutely beautiful. It’s very different in style and content to modern knitting releases. Published in the 1950s it contains relatively few photographs (there are 24 photographic plates in total) but it is absolutely packed full of the most wonderfully detailed illustrations.

The correct twist of each stitch is noted and I feel as if I can ‘see’ what’ is going on with each knitted stitch in a way that sometimes isn’t quite apparent with photographs of pieces of knitting simply because of the limitations in capturing the nuances of a fuzzy, soft yarn and lack of shadow between stitches with knitted fabric. The illustrations seem to have been made with so much care and attention to detail that I can spend hours gazing at the 400+ hand drawn pictures in this book.
Another lovely quality of this book is that it does not condescend to the reader. It tells the reader that designing your own knitted fabrics or stitch patterns is not difficult, and that anyone can achieve something truly unique if they just have the mind to try, and to experiment. At the same time the book is very good at laying down the instructions on how to complete any specific type of knitting stitch in a very exacting way.
The wealth of information in this book is pretty amazing. It has sections on many regional and international knitting styles, as well as details on how to knit many types of lacework and cabling, how to knit just about any shape or type of fabric and the best applications for each of these styles of fabric creation. Most of all it seems to impress the belief that knitting isn’t difficult and yes you can achieve any technique in knitting, no matter that they may first seem difficult or confusing, but that this book is there if yo do happen to get stuck or need some guidance. I like this attitude: of course you can do that.
I’ve read through the book a couple of times and have a few ideas for a future projects where I want to put a few newly gained skills and pieces of knowledge into practice. A couple of them might even come into play with the new project I am about to cast on. A friend has asked me to knit something a bit different from my usual socks and other winter-warming items, and to complete it I needed one of these:
New yarn is always fun, but this is a pretty run-of-the-mill workaday yarn. However, the fun comes when you realise that it is actually a yarn behemoth. Check it out with its little brother:
It’s a 400g ball of Stylecraft Special Aran yarn. I actually only need about 200g to finish the project, but this single ball worked out cheaper than buying two or three 100g balls of an equivalent Aran weight yarn. Now that it is here I shall cast on tonight! 

8 thoughts on “Old Treasures And New Yarn

  1. I have that book and love it. Although I seek out old knitting books your blog is the only other place I’ve seen it. My copy is a bit whiffy – must have been shut in a cellar for a few years. Enjoy!

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